It started as friendly.
This is what you tell yourself.
It was a tickle,
a hand on the thigh.
You shift away,
Eventually you cannot be in the same room.
You mention it.
Others mention it.
He doesn’t seem to notice.
Afterwards you wonder if he doesn’t actually care.
You will lose touch after you move away
and this will bring you great relief.
Years later he will find you on the internet
and he will start up a conversation.
You will tell yourself what happened doesn’t matter
that it was many years ago and
not as insidious as the things in the news.
Not as insidious as things you’ve already lived through.
One day he will be loud and bragging
and you will be fed up
and you will remind him about what happened.
You will use the word “touch”
the way you couldn’t before.
He will be shocked.
He will be sad.
You will feel bad for making him sad.
He wants so badly to be one of the good guys
but you are wondering if maybe there aren’t any left.
If maybe there weren’t any to begin with.
Because then he will tell you he doesn’t remember
any of it.
Not the touching, not the tickles
not the hand on thigh inching upwards
not the way you used to twist yourself
like a ballerina
to avoid his touch.
He will be sorry.
He will be devastated
because he sees himself as a good man
and doesn’t understand
that there might not be any good men.
But he will never admit that it happened.
That he did this.
That he actively chose to touch you without regard.
That your body was a thing he felt entitled to.
And in that denial
you will feel his
What you avoided before will boomerang through time and space
and land squarely with you again.
And it will not be that he did it that upsets you.
You were, after all, long past that.
It will be that it wasn’t even
enough for him to
bother to remember.